April 17, 2014

Media coverage on yesterday's smelt decision

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

As noted yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Bureau of Reclamation must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service when it chooses to renew various contracts for water from the Central Valley Project.  Media articles quote one water-user lawyer describing the decision as merely “procedural,” and another water-user attorney as “destabilizing.”

I would say that they’re both right.  The ruling is procedural in the sense that the Bureau technically just has to consult but doesn’t necessarily have to reduce water deliveries to these contractors, but the ruling is also destabilizing because it’s certainly possible (perhaps even likely) that water deliveries will be affected, even though these particular contracts had been thought largely immune from Delta smelt regulation.

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